August 2012 Archives

August 30, 2012

People's Reaction To Scars

One of the challenges that a burn survivor faces after discharge is the reaction of society to his/her scars. According to George Pessotti a burn survivor and the author of Reasons for Living, "most people mean no harm when they stare or ask questions. They're simply curious; they want to know what happened to you for different reasons"

The face is the mirror of the person, the first thing that most people look at when they see a person is the face, and it gives clues about the person like background, age and mood. Scarring of the face after a burn injury may lead to psychological and social difficulties for the patient.

Burn survivors deal with scars differently, each will cope with it in his/ her own way, some will try to move on with life and forget what happened as much as they can. Others will isolate themselves from the community, live their lives in the shadow or turn to drugs and alcohol.

In addition to the physical trauma some have to deal with the loss of their home, income and may be grieving the loss of a family member (in the fire). It's not uncommon that the patient may experience different emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, frustration, self guilt and depression. The road to recovery may be long but there will always be light at the end of the tunnel. Patients are encouraged to speak with family, close friends, attend support groups, and seek counseling if they need it.

The human brain works in an amazing way. Positive thinking can lead to better coping skills and decreased negative stress. If you put positive thoughts in your brain the results will be positive and vice versa. Simply focus on the solutions and not the problem as the problem has happened and can't be changed but the solution is in your hand. When you see people looking at your scars in a strange or suspicious way, explain to them what happened.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

August 28, 2012

Dermabrasion

Is a surgical procedure involving the removal (sanding) of the damaged top layer of the skin using a specialized instrument called a dermabrader. This procedure is used for scars as well as other skin conditions such as wrinkles and tattoos.

Dermabrasion improves the appearance of the scar or other skin abnormality as a new layer of skin will replace the skin that has been treated. This procedure won't entirely remove the scar or other abnormality but it will improve its appearance by softening the edges of the scar or other lesion.

The procedure can be done in a surgeon's office or in an outpatient surgical facility. After the procedure the skin will be swollen, red and tender. Swelling gradually subsides within 2-3 weeks. You may feel some burning, itching, aching or discomfort for a while after the surgery. Pain medication, antibiotics and anti-swelling medications can be prescribed. Ointment and special dressing will help speed the healing process and your physician will give you instructions on how to care for the wound. Healing usually occurs within seven to ten days.

At first the new skin that is formed is pink in color but will gradually return to its normal appearance. The skin pinkness will largely fade within 2 to 3 months. The new skin should closely match the surrounding skin when full color returns. You can resume your normal activities within 2 weeks. Any activity that can cause injury to the area that has been treated should be avoided. You should also avoid sports for 4 to 6 weeks. Sun protection is also important to avoid pigment alteration. Avoid exposure to sunlight both direct and indirect for at least 6 months and use sunscreens on a regular basis when outdoors.

Skin color changes in the form of increased pigment (darker) or decreased pigment (lighter) after treatment is one of the complications of dermabrasion.

You should contact your doctor if:


  • The redness and swelling persists in the treated area as this could be a sign of a scar forming.

  • There is discharge or yellowish crusting as this may indicate an infection.


This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

August 22, 2012

Third Degree Burns to the Fingers

Skin is a sensative organ that has many functions among which is the protection of the body against external harmful enviromental factors. The skin may be damaged when it comes in contact with a hot object. The severity of the burn depends on the intensity of the heat and the duration of time heat is applied.

Hand and finger burns are usually common and are caused by the accidental touch of boiling water or hot objects. Most of these burns are not dangerous but they are of heigh priority becauase of the functional importance of the hand and fingers therefore they have to be treated as soon as possible to avoid serious complications. Burns to the fingers can be first, second or third degree burns.

  • First degree burns are superficial were there is redness and blisters of the skin.
  • Second degree burns are partial thickness skin damage with blisters present.
  • Third degree burns are full thickness skin damage where the skin is leathery and white in color.
  • Fourth degree burns are the same as third degree burns but with damage to deeper structures such as tendons, bones and joints.

What to do if your fingers are exposed to a burn injury:

  • Be calm and hold the fingers under cool water (not cold water) such as putting the fingers under running cool tap water or soak them in water in order to reduce the heat. Avoid treating the burned fingers with ice as this may lead top frost bite.
  • Separate the fingers and cover them with sterile and clean dressing or bandage.
  • If there is pain then use pain medications to relieve pain and swelling. Pain medications are not recommended to be given to children as it may affect their liver.
  • Apply moisturizers or burn ointments to the affected area which will help in keeping the area moist.
  • Keep the burned area elevated to reduce swelling.
  • You can use home remedies to treat simple burns like honey after the skin has cooled down (see Home burn remedies).
Precautions and prevention:
  • Aviod using butter, oil and ice while teating the burned area, butter and oil may prevent heat from escaping the wound leading to elevation of temperature. Ice may lead to frost bite.
  • If the affected area is blackened, completely blistered or the burn spread on more than 2-3 inches in area then you should seek emergency medical treatment as this may indicate a second or a third degree burn.
  • Contact your physician immediatly if there is any signs or symptoms of infection of the burned area like fever, increase redness, increase pain, swelling, tenderness, foul smelling discharge ( see wound infection and Burn wound care at home).
  • You should be careful while handling hot objects that may cause burns.
  • Follow safety measures while using any electrical device, heater or oven.
  • Keep children away from any source that may cause them burn or injury such as hot water, stoves, heaters, electrical cords, fireworks ( see Fire prevention and safety)
  • Water heater temperature should never be set more then 120 degree.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.


August 21, 2012

Flammable Liquids

Flammable and combustible liquids are liquids that can burn. These liquids give off vapors that mix with air and can catch on fire from a source of ignition causing serious burns. The vapor is actually what burns, not the liquid. The lowest temperature at which the liquid gives off enough vapor to be ignited is called the flashpoint.

Flammable and combustible liquids include gasoline, kerosene, paint and paint thinners, solvents, cleaners, polishes and others. There are certain rules to be followed to avoid serious burns from flammable liquids which include:

  • Read the manufacturer's label on the flammable liquid container before its use.
  • Flammable liquids should be kept away from open flames and sparks.
  • Always store flammable liquids in the original manufacturer's containers or approved cans.
  • Flammable liquids should not be used near open flame or any source of heat.
  • Always use flammable liquids in a well ventilated area.
  • You should never smoke around flammable liquids.
  • Empty containers that contained flammable liquids should be properly discarded.
  • Avoid spilling flammable liquids on you, if this should occur; rinse the area thoroughly as soon as possible.
  • Don't use flammable liquids for purposes for which they are not intended.
  • Be aware that cell phones should not be used while pumping gas (the cell phone could ignite the fumes).
  • Never fill a gas can in the bed of a pick up truck (the fumes will be contained within the bed of the truck).
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
August 15, 2012

Third Degree Burns due to Natural Gas Explosion

Natural gas can leak and lead to a gas explosion if there is a source of ignition. Gas explosions may lead to serious burn injuries including third degree burns part I, part II and smoke inhalation injuries. Appliances that may leak gas and lead to gas explosion include:

  • Ovens, cook tops
  • Gas generators.
  • Space heaters
  • Water heaters
  • Dryers
  • Outdoor grills
  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Fireplaces
  • Gas lights
If you smell gas at your home follow these safety tips:
  • Notify the people in your house and leave the house immediately.
  • Don't turn lights on or off as it may act as an ignition source.
  • Don't light a match
  • Don't switch on any electrical device.
  • Don't use cell phones
  • After leaving your home, alert your gas company and the fire department about the problem
.

When an accident happens liability can fall on any of the following entities:

  • The gas company
  • The appliance seller
  • The appliance distributer
  • The appliance manufacturer
  • The person or company who recently installed the appliance or repaired the appliance.
  • The landlord.
Accidents due to gas explosion may be prevented or reduced by frequent checks and maintenance of appliances by a professional. Don't try to repair a leak yourself.

Properties of natural gas:

  • Natural gas is lighter than air.
  • Natural gas has no odor (odorless). A minute amount of odorant such as t-butyl mercaptan, with a rotting like smell is added to the odorless gas, so that leaks can be detected before a fire or explosion occurs. Sometimes a related compound such as thiophane is used, with a rotten-egg smell.
  • Natural gas has no color (colorless).
  • Natural gas has a narrow combustion limit (meaning the % of natural gas in the air by volume must fall within a certain amount for an explosion to occur).
For more information about natural gas see the following link.

Kramer and Pollack, LLP; are VERY well versed in all aspects of representing burn injury victims. They have handled a multitude of burn injury cases ranging from hot water scald burns, to stove tipping cases to explosion cases. They are competent, experienced and very thorough.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.